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Emergency lights installed at two campuses
May 9, 2014
The Community College of Rhode Island's College Police recently has deployed an important tool in keeping students, faculty, staff and visitors safe. Code Blue emergency light systems are now operational at the Flanagan Campus in Lincoln and the Liston Campus in Providence.
David Snow, interim director of the Physical Plant, said the blue lights are part of an essential effort to bring campus safety at CCRI in line with what has been the standard for safety at colleges and universities nationwide for some years now. Snow and Vice President for Business Affairs David Patten said previous criminal incidents at both the Providence and Lincoln campuses prompted the college to put those security measures in place.
"It was really time for us to show this enhanced commitment to security and to provide a sense that there are tools available if we have any events. If anything were to occur out in the middle of a parking lot, or anyone felt unsafe or like he or she was being followed, other than having a cell phone or a self-defense tool, we didn't have that capability before," Snow said. "And also, hopefully, it will act as a deterrent."
The units are tall poles topped with visible blue lights. Snow said that during the night, the majority of the emergency blue light units operate on line power, and during the day, they are powered by battery backups, thus employing green technology. If a person experiences an emergency, he or she needs only to make it to the nearest blue light system and push a large red button. Contact is made immediately to dedicated lines in College Police and if needed, the call is seamlessly integrated to 911. All of this takes place in less than one minute.
Once the call is put through, communication remains two-way, meaning a person in distress doesn't have to worry about holding down buttons to stay on the line. The light atop the poll will continue to strobe, casting a visible beacon across the space both in the daytime and at night. Snow explained that there was no audible alarm activated, as it would be hard for the responders to hear the person at the pole over the alarm.
Snow said that the redundancies built into the system would make up for any gaps in communication that might result. He said the College Police office in Lincoln is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the office in Providence is staffed during the hours that the building is open (typically from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily). "And in Warwick, the office is staffed 24/7 and there's pretty much always someone there to answer the phone," he said, adding that the upgraded radio system in place throughout all four campuses has the capability for individual officers in the field to radio officers on each campus as well.
For those who are concerned that the call doesn't go straight to the local police force in each of the college's host communities, Patten had important words of assurance. "College Police officers have the same training as municipal police officers. We have the staff, the equipment and the training that these officers need to handle the issues on campus. The College Police stay in close communication with municipal police in our host communities, who can be called in as appropriate."
Ultimately, Patten said, safety on any college campus – or any venue – works on a continuum. "We work and learn in a public building that is open to all. Whatever issues faced by society can ultimately present themselves at our college. However, we do have a safe campus thanks to all occupants working together. We encourage students, staff and faculty to be aware of their surroundings and report anything that raises a concern. In addition, we implement appropriate technology, policies and procedures to keep building occupants safe," he said.
Snow shared that Code Blue locations have been identified for the Knight Campus in Warwick and Newport County Campus when the time comes to evaluate those possibilities. Until then, eight blue lights in Lincoln can be found in the motorcycle lot area, in the north and south lots, in the administrative parking area on the south side, in front of the field house, at the RIPTA stop and at entrances A and E. In Providence, seven units are located one each at the North Blackstone parking lot, lots 1 and 2 near the front entrance, the Pilgrim Street lot, the new faculty/staff parking area and at each of the main entrances A and E.
Patten and Snow encourage feedback from the community, and any responses can be directed to Acting Director of Administration Kenneth McCabe or 401-825-2111.
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